Jack Dorsey says conservative Twitter staffers ‘feel silenced’ though they are encouraged to speak up

Jack Dorsey says conservative Twitter staffers ‘feel silenced’ though they are encouraged to speak up

Twitter Inc. Chief Executive Jack Dorsey says conservatives who work at the social media company “feel silenced,” though he encourages them to take the difficult step of speaking up.

The comment was part of a sit-down with Jay Rosen, professor at New York University, that’s been posted on Recode.

“They do feel silenced by just the general swirl of what they perceive to be the broader percentage of leanings within the company, and I don’t think that’s fair or right,” Dorsey said. “[W]e have a lot of conservative-leaning folks in the company as well, and to be honest, they don’t feel safe to express their opinions at the company.”

Dorsey said he doesn’t want anyone to feel stifled at Twitter TWTR, -0.89%  , but he understands how difficult it can be for some to make their voices heard.

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“I definitely encourage speaking up and having the courage to do so, but one has to feel it maybe in a different context […] and I think it just takes time,” he said.

This summer, Twitter was accused of censoring and “shadow banning” conservative tweets, which the company has denied.

Earlier this month, Twitter banned Alex Jones and the Infowars website based on tweets and videos that the company said violated its policies about abusive behavior. The move followed suspensions from Apple Inc. AAPL, -1.14%  , Facebook Inc. FB, +0.59%  , and Alphabet Inc.’s GOOG, -0.24% GOOGL, -0.35%   YouTube site.

Jones had been previously suspended for 10 days for breaking Twitter’s content rules.

In discussions with conservatives, Dorsey told Rosen that the company there have been questions about the algorithms and decision-making process that, for instance, dictate what shows up on someone’s timeline.

Generally, he said, conservatives want more conversations with the company.

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Earlier this month, Dorsey published a Twitter thread that elaborated on these issues of bias and the challenges of building policies and technology that are impartial.

“We believe that many people see us as a public square,” Dorsey told Rosen. “[B]ecause we’re used as a public square, they expect to have the same sort of, well, they have the same sort of expectations they would have of a public square, like [New York City’s] Bryant Park.”

Dorsey also answered the question on many Twitter users’ minds: why isn’t there an edit button?

“[I]f you asked a hundred different people what they intend by ‘edit,’ you’ll get a hundred different answers,” Dorsey said.

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Even if the company went with a time window to correct typos, there’s still the issue of clarifying what was previously posted.

“You may tweet something stupid and not realize it after an uproar or outrage for a day,” he said.

Dorsey said the company is also taking cues from Black Twitter, which has sparked internal conversation about whether to add a real-time button that indicates when a user is online.

Twitter stock has tumbled 34.2% for the last three months, but is up 25.5% for the year to date. The S&P 500 index SPX, +0.03%   has gained 8.7% for 2018 to date.

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